BLOG - EMAIL MARKETING

How We Turn Leads into Customers Using Email Automation

AARON BEASHEL - MAY 26, 2016

Have you ever looked at the number of visits you get to your website using a tool like Google Analytics?

If so, you’ve probably noticed that lots of people are visiting your site but only a small percent of them actually contact you or buy your products.

You likely spent good money getting these people to visit your website, so the fact they just left without contacting you or buying your product feels like a missed opportunity.

Fortunately, there’s a solution.

In this post, we’ll share some tactics we’re using here at Campaign Monitor to turn those anonymous website visitors into leads and ultimately, paying customers.

What is lead nurturing and why do we do it?

We’re fortunate here at Campaign Monitor to get several hundred thousand people that visit our blog each month.

The majority of these people come from search engines like Google. They could be searching for things like ‘How to build your email list’ and might arrive at our post on How to build your email list using contests.

Judging by the fact they’re searching for content on building their email lists, these people are obviously interested in email marketing and are likely potential customers for us, so it would seem obvious to just display a big call to action button at the end of the post prompting them to create a Campaign Monitor account.

However, just because they are interested in email marketing doesn’t mean they are actively looking for an email marketing tool. They might already have one, or could be just starting to learn about email marketing and are not ready to sign up for an email marketing solution just yet.

We don’t just want to let these people leave (and possibly never return), but it would be ineffective to just show a call to action to create an account and hope they sign up.

So what’s the answer?

For us, the answer is to convert these people into a lead (i.e., someone who has given us their email address and permission to contact them) by offering them other value-add content that they exchange their email address to access.

From here, we can then send them a series of emails (called lead nurturing emails) that help teach them about email marketing best practices and how Campaign Monitor can help them, with the ultimate goal of nurturing them towards creating an account and becoming a paying customer.

How we use our own email automation tools to capture and nurture leads

Now that you understand what lead nurturing is and why we do it, let’s take an in-depth look at how it works here at Campaign Monitor.

Part 1: Capture new leads by offering long-form content

In order to capture people’s email addresses and convert them from anonymous website visitors into leads, we offer a high-value, long-form content piece at the end of most blog posts that we publish.

As you can see from the image above, at the end of nearly every blog post we include a call to action for readers to access a long-form content piece. To ensure we get the highest click-through rates on the call to action box, the content piece we offer is directly related to the blog post it appears in, and by extension, the topic the reader is interested in.

Clicking on this call to action then leads readers to a landing page that contains more information about the content piece, along with a short form people can fill out in order to access the content.

Once people complete the form, their details are captured and they are able to access the long-form content piece they were looking for.

Part 2: Add new leads to our CRM

After someone fills out the form to get the content, we pass their information into our CRM system (Salesforce) as a new lead.

Basic details like their name, email address, and company name are passed in, but on top of that, we’re also passing through what content piece they accessed and how they got there. This is not only useful for reporting but helps us target our follow-up communications to them (more on that later).

Part 3: Move leads into a list and segment them

Once leads are in Salesforce, we use our Campaign Monitor for Salesforce integration to sync leads into a list in our Campaign Monitor account.

From here, we use the segmentation feature in Campaign Monitor to create more targeted segments of the list based on the information we know about them.

The different segments we use include:

We determine whether a person is a ‘Marketer’ or an ‘Agency’ by including the question on the form they complete before accessing the content, and we determine the stage of the buying cycle they are in by what content they accessed.

For instance, if a lead selects they are a ‘Marketer sending campaigns on behalf of their business’ and accessed a piece of content like “Getting started with email marketing” then we assume they’re a marketer in the Awareness stage, and place them in that segment.

Alternatively, if a lead selects they are an ‘Agency sending campaigns on behalf of their clients’ and accesses a content piece like “How to choose the right email tool for your agency” then we assume they’re an Agency in the Consideration stage, and place them in that segment accordingly.

Part 4: Send an automated series of emails to each segment

Once the leads have been placed in the correct segment based on their persona and the content they downloaded, our email automation feature kicks in and starts sending a series of email campaigns containing specifically chosen content pieces.

Here are the different automated email workflows we have:

Workflow 1: Awareness stage workflow for marketers

Given that these leads are in the early stages of the buying cycle, the main goal of this workflow is to educate marketers on various email marketing best practices, while subtly showcasing the capabilities and ease of use of Campaign Monitor.

Content pieces in this workflow include:

Workflow 2: Consideration stage workflow for marketers

Given that these leads are in the later stages of the buying cycle, the main goal of this workflow is to educate marketers on why Campaign Monitor is a good fit for their needs.

Content pieces in this workflow include:

Workflow 3: Awareness stage workflow for agencies

Given that these leads are in the early stages of the buying cycle, the main goal of this workflow is to educate agencies on how selling email marketing services can grow their business and giving them the information they need to be able to offer email services to their clients.

Workflow 4: Consideration stage workflow for agencies

Given that these leads are in the later stages of the buying cycle, the main goal of this workflow is to educate Agencies on why Campaign Monitor is a good fit for their needs.

Content pieces in this workflow include:

All of the emails in this workflow contain a small snippet of the content along with a large call to action to read the full piece. Once clicked, leads are directed to dedicated landing pages which contain the content piece and a contextually-relevant call to action to create a Campaign Monitor account.

The results

We’ve had positive results using our own email automation to nurture leads (many ESPs use another tool believe it or not). We’re sharing the results to help you understand the effectiveness of implementing this kind of system at your own business.

In total, we get thousands of leads per month from our lead generation efforts.

To date, our automation feature has sent our leads tens of thousands of emails without us having to manually hit send even once. Across the series of emails, we have an average open rate of around 40% and an average click-through rate of around 35%.

Most importantly, however, is the effect these lead nurturing emails have on our signup and customer numbers.

Our analytics systems tell us that people who download a content piece, become a lead, and receive the lead nurturing emails are more likely to signup and try our product than people who simply just visit our website and don’t become a lead.  Furthermore, when these leads do sign up and try our product, they’re far more likely to go on and become paying customers than standard website visitors.

As these results show, by capturing people’s email addresses and sending them strategically selected content, we can positively impact their perception of email marketing and of our product, and increase the chance they’ll become valuable, paying customers.

And we can do it all in a completely automated fashion, whereby we set it up once and it continues to run even while we sleep.

What’s next?

The key to success with lead nurturing initiatives like this is targeting.

The more targeted the emails are at the individual characteristics of each lead, the more likely they are to click-through from the email, read the content and ultimately create an account.

So the next evolution of our lead nurturing initiatives will be focused on further segmenting our leads and creating content that more directly speaks to the things they care about.

For instance, we’ve found that online retailers like Birchbox tend to care more about integrating with their e-commerce tools, while publishers like BuzzFeed care more about the ease of use and reporting, so by segmenting leads by industry (for instance), we can send content that better resonates with the things they care about.

Wrap up

It’s a fact of life that the majority of people who visit your website won’t convert into paying customers on their first visit.

However, there’s always an opportunity to capture those people’s email addresses and send them strategically chosen content to try to build a relationship that can turn into paying customers in the future.

So steal what’s relevant from our playbook and implement lead nurturing at your own business, as hopefully it can drive new sales for you as well.

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